June 14, 2012
The Southeast economy continued its trend of moderate growth in April, according to the latest Data Digest. Produced by the Regional Economic Information Network (REIN), the monthly report includes state and metro-level data and analysis on the region's key sectors.
Although economic activity in the Southeast continues to lag the national economy, several states have seen a gradual improvement in their coincident index. Produced by the Philadelphia Fed, the monthly index is comprised of four state-level variables, including the unemployment rate and nonfarm payroll employment. In April, Alabama and Georgia's reading reached their highest levels since May 2009 and December 2008, respectively, the Digest noted. Likewise, the region's labor market has seen slow but steady improvement, with Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee reporting unemployment rates in April below the national average of 8.1 percent.
The Southeast's manufacturing activity also strengthened in April, according to the Southeast Purchasing Managers Index (PMI). The regional index rose to 63.5, putting it firmly in expansionary territory. However, some of the state-level readings came in below the regional measure, including those for Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
Finally, the Atlanta Fed's monthly survey of southeastern residential brokers and homebuilders pointed to a tentative improvement in the region's housing market. Respondents in the April survey noted improved home sales and declining inventories from last year's levels. Further signs of improvement include roughly even home prices or slight increases in prices, as well as stronger buyer traffic. Both brokers and homebuilders noted that their outlook for home sales growth and construction activity were positive.
For more data and analysis on the Southeast economy, read the full Data Digest.